As I am sure most of you know if you want to ride a bike these days you have to jump through many Government / EU hoops that make the whole process rather onerous and very expensive. If you wish to ride a 125 you either have to take a day’s training every two years or pass a full test – the days of riding around on a provisional licence for ever and a day are long gone. You can’t go to the big stuff without going through the 125 stage first.
This one day training is known as the CBT – Compulsory Basic Training, it teaches you the basics of riding a bike safely, it starts off road, then you go on road for a minimum of 2 hours being scrutinised by a trained trainer. I strongly recommend doing as I did and doing a search for CBT on Google – best borrow somebody else’s PC to do it though. I discovered that CBT has the meaning any biker would understand but it also stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and on some other sites as Cock and Ball Torture. After exploring a few sites that catered to the latter interpretation I had almost decided that I didn’t want CBT after all but then I found the link to Access Driver Training in Horncastle and I am glad to say there wasn’t a Dominatrix in sight.
They are located just outside of Horncastle on the Louth Road, I understand they are moving soon as their current location is at a school and the school have decided they want their buildings back. Anyway, my trainer for the day was a guy called Andy, I pissed him off before the thing even started by leaving his gate open. That’s typical of me, is that sort of thing. After he had growled at me a bit and walked across the car park to close his gate he came and introduced himself and we awaited the arrival of the day’s only other student, a young lass of 19 with a fairly mashed up CBF125.
First job was to do the paperwork formalities and get our temperatures taken as part of Covid prevention. Fortunately he used an infra red thermometer rather than the large and intrusive probing device I had seen on one of the other CBT sites.
It should be pointed out that the CBT is not really a test per se – there is not a pass or fail but if you are a complete arse headed twonk you won’t get a certificate and you won’t be able to ride your bike legally. Best behave then.
So after the legal bit they go through all the safety stuff including helmet selection, the advantages and disadvantages of different clothing types and all that sort of stuff. I had full leather gear on and the young lady also on the course didn’t so that worked out quite well for him really. It was all very well explained and I could definitely see the benefit of it being carefully talked through to a youngster who’s primary concern would be whether they look cool or not. They keep a small stash of gear for sale in case anybody turns up without the required kit – if you don’t have it they don’t let you take the course so do be aware f that, I would imagine it’s the same at every training center. Minimum requirements were stout footwear preferably without laces, proper biking jacket, preferably leather, biking gloves and an approved crash helmet in good condition. You can wear jeans but they prefer you to have decent trousers like my super cool leather ones with removable crash pads.
With that done we were told to push our bikes on to the test pad – the young lady with her CBF and me with the school provided Yamaha YS125 fuel injected jobby – I didn’t take my own bike as insurance doesn’t cover you for a CBT lesson, they only charge an extra fiver to use one of their bikes so it’s no big deal.
First exercise was manual manoeuvring, which is far more difficult to spell than to do – it’s just wheeling the bike around and putting it on and off the stand. They had to show the young lady how to do it properly, she had never been able to do it before but was quite delighted once Andy had shown her the correct way. By now Andy knew how I made my living so he wasn’t particularly impressed when I was able to put mine on and off the stand without falling over. I found that quite hurtful.
Once I had recovered from the emotional distress of not being praised for not falling over, it was on to the slow manoeuvres, the emphasis being very much put on balancing throttle, rear brake and clutch. I found it a bit odd with the little Yamaha being so light but so wide – they had fitted extra wide footpegs to protect the bike from anybody that may forget to maintain balance. They had fitted handlebar and engine crash bars for the same reason. I hate riding somebody else’s bike and get really tense. Broadly speaking, I don’t care about my own bikes – I usually have the parts to fix them and if I break something it’s no big deal – I just fix it. Somehow though when I am on somebody else’s machine I get really tense and get a bad pain in my hips from where I tense up. It’s daft but I can’t stop it, the riding position didn’t help and at one point I had to stop and straighten up for a minute. Andy was great about it and after making a virtually inaudible comment about my age, started laughing and let me recover. I then completed a few circuits of the course, did a few figure of eights, an emergency stop and then we left the inner sanctum of the test pad. Next was to practice left and right turns as if we were out on the road – some done from a stop, others done as if we were at a clear give way. An emergency stop from fairly low speed completed the off road part of the course. Once he was happy that neither of us were likely to die while in his care we broke for lunch. They normally stop for lunch half way round the on road part of the course but diabetic Dave needed to raise his blood sugars a bit so he rearranged things slightly to suit – top geezer.
With a full belly and a reduced chance of me falling in to a diabetic coma we put all our safety gear back on and headed out to the open roads. The young lady went first – Andy followed behind and I took up a rear guard position. We went through the town of Horncastle and all it’s associated hazards and then aimed our machines towards the road to Woodhall Spa. Quite a lot of it is 60 mph single carriageway with some really good bends, it was actually really good fun. I relaxed totally and enjoyed the ride immensely. Andy only had to talk to me once – I thought I had cancelled the indicator but hadn’t checked the flashing green light on the instrument pack, which was busy flashing green. Dooohhh!!! On the plus side that was the only time he had to talk to me on the entire course – they give you a radio and a pair of ear buds so they can give you instructions.
We stopped half way round for a cuppa and a chat, I have to say that although the talk had nothing whatsoever to do with motorcycles it was both educational and entertaining. It seems that young girls these days don’t have the same hangups and shyness that they did when I was a lad. It was most enlightening. Andy was the perfect host, turns out he has a great sense of humour and when he’s not dealing with the important safety issues he is a truly great laugh – the perfect person for the job really.
We rode back to the training center, me in the lead this time, most of it was at 60 MPH. The only time my ear buds burst in to life was to tell me which turns to take. Back at the center we parked the bikes up and Andy told us we had both done well enough to earn our certificates, which were duly issued.
I have been riding bikes on and off for about 42 years now and I still picked up a couple of things that will make me a better rider. It is inconvenient and expensive to do these courses but I really can see the value of them and if you are lucky enough to get an instructor as good as Andy you will get value out of it no matter how good you think you are.
So that’s me good for another 2 years, my test got cancelled because of Covid so my CBT ran out and I had to start all over again. I really wish I had done the legal thing and passed my test 39 years ago when all you had to do was ride around the block without killing anybody. I will tell you all about my DAS course as and when it happens but right now I have an urgent google search to do. I just need to find my wife’s PC password first. Dave.
Article provided by David Powell of Boston Bike Bits.